Parents, be prepared! 5 tips for choosing accommodation for your student

With universities openly admitting that they don’t have enough on-campus accommodation for their students, there’s no time like the present to start looking for alternatives for your prospective first year as they head off to university in 2016.

The ideal is to find somewhere close to campus, that offers the social support structures found in on-campus residences – it’s in this proximity to lectures and to other students in a similar position that makes great memories… and great academic results.

It’s difficult to choose, however. There are apartments, where students will have to take care of everything, from grocery shopping to laundry, and from internet access to keeping the prepaid electricity meter suitably loaded. There are communes, where your student will share a house off campus with a bunch of other people, sharing common facilities like the kitchen, bathroom and outdoor areas.

There are also purpose-built off-campus residences, that offer all the facilities put up by university facilities – and more. To help you and your student make the best decision on where they should stay in 2016, Respublica suggests five tips for you to consider.

When do I start?
Immediately! For peace of mind and to make sure you find something that your student feels is the right fit, it’s important to start looking early. By the time matric exams are over, or year-end finals are wrapped up, the process of securing accommodation for 2016 should be done and dusted.

Location, location, location!
Choose a place to stay that is close to lectures and safe to travel between campus and residence. Being able to walk or catch a short commute to classes will save time and money. If they are going to be driving each day, make sure that the accommodation includes secure parking facilities – and that there’s parking where they will be going to be attending lectures.

Value for money
Cheapest is not necessarily always best. Make sure you are comparing apples with apples. A fully inclusive monthly rate is better because you know what you are in for and it leaves no surprises at the end of the month. A clean, well-kept environment with free water, electricity and efficient WiFi access, plus loads of entertainment and study facilities may cost a little more, but it’s going to save time, money and effort that could be better spent on studying. Look for well designed, modern, purpose-built student accommodation. Older buildings often mean outdated finishes and amenities, irregular lights and water, and poor internet reception – a vital consideration in today’s connected world. As a result these older residences often land up being more expensive once you’ve had to make arrangements to cover for all the things that have gone wrong.

A well-managed and safe building
When many people live in a building, things are sure to need maintenance from time to time. Make sure that the accommodation is managed by a professional landlord who keeps it clean and safe to live in at all times. A well-managed residence will also take care of security, making sure that students are always safe within their own environment, and will be available to address any concerns 24 hours a day.

Striking a balance
Choose a residence that has an active and involved student community. The perfect student environment gives the best of university life, while making students feel that they’re right at home, and part of a community. It’s also important that the chosen accommodation has quiet spaces for students to hit the books – particularly if they are going to be sharing a room or apartment.

“It’s important to work with your student in finding their accommodation for when they’re at university. This is likely their first home away from home, and they’ll be all the happier in it if they feel like they’ve had a say in choosing it,” says Craig McMurray, CEO of Respublica.

“Choosing a place to live for the year is a big decision, but once you’re armed with all of this information, you are well equipped to make the right choice,” he adds.

Respublica’s portfolio of residences includes Saratoga Village and The Fields in Doornfontein, which provide accommodation for University of Johannesburg, Central Johannesburg College and University of the Witwatersrand students. In Pretoria, the West City, Urban Nest, and soon-to-be-launched Eastwood Village facilities accommodate students from TUT and UP, as well as from various other colleges in the area.